The third verse is sung as this group emerges into full view of the audience. The children stand looking at Aunt Rachel as they sing, as if they were catching some of the words from her. She beats time with her finger to see that they learn correctly. Other voices take up the song in right background, swelling it higher and higher. Uncle Ned, with his fiddle under his arm, comes slowly from right to join the group in foreground. The baskets are set down. The boy leans on his hoe, the girl on her wooden rake, rapt and happy. All are given over to the rhythmic joy of the music.
UNCLE NED (with a sigh of happiness). I certainly do love music. Nothing cheers the heart like singing— unless it’s the voice of the fiddle.
SUSY (hopping up and down). Play to us, Uncle Ned, play to us!
[Uncle Ned tucks his fiddle under his chin and begins to play. At first the air is chant-like, and has a strain of melancholy, then it grows gayer and gayer, until it turns into a dance tune. The children first stand about Uncle Ned in a circle, listening. Then they begin to dance, with swaying bodies and cries of delight. Here and there a girl and boy dance opposite each other, hands on hips. There should be five or six dancing groups in all. Uncle Ned finishes with a flourish, and turns towards left.
Play us another tune, Uncle Ned! Play us another tune!
(to a little girl who is especially imploring).
No, no, honey. There’s work for me to do up yonder at the house.
[Goes off, left background.
(still swaying a little and nodding her head).
It certainly does take the fiddle to make old bones feel young again.
Where are you going, Susy?
(taking up her basket and indicating left).
Off to the stables.
And where are you going, Lucy?
Up to the house with this bunch of roses for Mistress Washington.
Look! Here comes Nelly from the house now.
NELLY (running down from background). Have you-all heard the news? This is the day that Master George is leaving for his surveying trip with Lord Fairfax. See! Mistress Washington is coming to speak to us now!
[All look in the direction of house. Madam Washington is seen approaching from the background, center, a stately figure in Colonial dress, her hair slightly touched with gray. Cries of “Good-morning, Mistress Washington! Good-morning!” Children skip up and down. Baskets, hoe, and rake are alike forgotten. Madam Washington stands in center, and the plantation children are grouped in a wide semicircle about her, so that all she does is in full view of audience. Lucy presents Madam Washington with a bunch of roses. Madam Washington takes them, bows, and smiles. Lucy drops a courtesy.
How is your fever, Aunt Rachel?